Black Panther isn’t the name of a singular hero in Marvel Comics, but is instead a mantle that is passed down by the ruler of Wakanda to their successor. Over the course of history in the Marvel Universe, there have been a ton of Black Panthers that readers have never even met.
As of now, readers have been introduced to 10 different characters who have borne the mantle of Black Panther. Since they all consumed the heart-shaped herb in order to gain the powers of Bast, they all share the same baseline of powers. However, through their impressive feats and additional resources, some Black Panthers have proven themselves more powerful than others.
10/10 Erik Killmonger Was The Worst Black Panther
Erik Killmonger has proven himself to be a pretty powerful character in Marvel Comics. He defeated T’Challa in single combat and usurped the throne of Wakanda. However, when it came to actually being Black Panther, Killmonger was far from powerful.
In order to become the Black Panther, Killmonger had to ingest the heart-shaped herb. As soon as Killmonger consumed the plant, he fell into a coma, poisoned by the herb since he wasn’t deemed worthy of the mantle. Killmonger may be powerful, but as Black Panther, he wasn’t even conscious.
9/10 K’Shamba Was Never Truly In Danger
K’Shamba is the Black Panther of the year 2099, in an alternate reality called Earth-2992. At first, K’Shamba seems to be the scrappy underdog of his story, fighting a losing battle against the powerful invading forces of a revived Doctor Doom. However, a twist ending to the story revealed K’Shamba was never actually in danger.
After gaining the respect of his fellow Wakandan people, K’Shamba was allowed to take the heart-shaped herb and become Black Panther. Once gaining his powers, he helped Wakanda repel Doom’s forces and became king of Wakanda. It was later revealed that K’Shamba was secretly working for Doom to gain control of Wakanda, meaning any of the enemies he defeated allowed him to do so since he was working with them.
8/10 Bashenga Ignited The Legacy Of Black Panther
Bashenga was the first Black Panther in history. He founded the Cult of the Panther and established Wakanda around the site of the crashed vibranium meteor near Mount Kanda. He and his fellow Wakandans created weapons using the vibranium from the meteor, giving them superior weapons to others at the time.
Since he consumed the heart-shaped herb, Bashenga had the same superpowers as other Black Panthers. However, not much is known about Bashenga’s exploits, and he didn’t square off against any iconic Marvel villains to give readers an idea of his relative power. Without more information, Bashenga will have to serve as a baseline for how powerful any Black Panther may be.
7/10 T’Chaka Was Only Defeated Through Treachery
It’s hard to say just how powerful a Black Panther King T’Chaka could have been if given the chance. During his time as Wakanda’s protector, he fought off Hydra and their leader, Baron Strucker, but his time as Black Panther was cut short by a betrayal.
T’Chaka allied himself with Ulysses Klaw, a scientist who he thought could help Wakanda. Once there, Klaw killed T’Chaka and began stealing vibranium from the Wakandans. It’s unknown if Klaw could have defeated T’Chaka without the element of surprise, but without more proof of his abilities, T’Chaka can’t be considered more powerful than some other Black Panthers.
6/10 T’Challa’s Grandfather’s Exploits Have Questionable Canonicity
Pinning down too much specific information on T’Challa’s grandfather is difficult, as even his name seems to be in question in the comics. In some comics, he’s referred to as Chanda but in others as Azzuri the Wise. Also, Marvel’s own website calls him Azzari, adding to the confusion.
What stays pretty consistent across depictions of the character is that Azzuri/Chanda managed to fight off the Nazis when they came to invade Wakanda. While this single confirmed feat isn’t as impressive as some other Black Panthers’ accomplishments, it gives readers some idea of Azzuri/Chanda’s power compared to other Black Panthers.
5/10 S’Yan Had A Short But Sweet Stint As Black Panther
S’Yan was the brother of T’Chaka, making him T’Challa’s uncle. When T’Chaka was killed by Ulysses Klaw, S’Yan took up the mantle in his brother’s stead and consumed the heart-shaped herb to gain the powers of the Black Panther. During his short time as Black Panther, S’Yan fought some notable foes.
S’Yane held his own both against Klaw, and Doctor Doom, when they came to Wakanda in hopes of stealing vibranium. Not too long after taking the mantle, S’Yan was defeated by a masked man who turned out to be his nephew, T’Challa. S’Yan may have fared well against Doom and Klaw, but losing to T’Challa — who hadn’t yet become Black Panther — makes one question S’Yan’s relative power.
4/10 Nehanda Was A Member Of A Powerful Avengers Team
Not much is known about the former Black Panther, Nehanda. She first appeared in Marvel Comics as one of the ancestral spirits T’Challa summons to ask for advice. Readers know Nehanda was also a member of Avengers 1,000 AD.
While little is known about Nehanda’s individual accomplishments, it is known that her team of Avengers battled some pretty serious threats, including Mephisto and Apocalypse. She has been depicted holding a large glowing shield, perhaps implying that she possessed some sort of Magical abilities. As of now, readers will need to learn more about Nehanda to prove she’s more powerful than other characters.
3/10 Mosi Is The Second First Black Panther
Due to Marvel Comics’ long history, Bashenga was retconned from being the first Black Panther to the second. The new first Black Panther was a man named Mosi who helped defend Wakanda against Brood invaders and joined the Stone Age Avengers.
As a member of the Stone Age Avengers, Mosi helped the team defeat a Celestial known as The Fallen. Celestials are incredibly powerful beings, so Mosi’s ability to combat one without the help of modern Wakandan technology is very impressive. Even though he eventually died fighting frost giants, Mosi proved himself to be a very powerful Black Panther.
2/10 Shuri Had To Fight To Earn The Mantle
Unlike her MCU Counterpart, Shuri always wanted to be Black Panther in the comics. When the Cabal put her brother T’Challa into a coma, Shuri eagerly took his place as Black Panther. However, when she consumed the heart-shaped herb, Bast didn’t grant her the powers of the Black Panther.
Shuri donned the Black Panther costume, and even without powers defeated Morlun when he attacked Wakanda. This finally earns her Bast’s respect, granting Shuri the powers of Black Panther. Shuri proved herself pretty powerful before having superpowers, and with them, she defeated powerful enemies like Klaw and Namor.
1/10 T’Challa Has Proven Himself Many Times
T’Challa is Marvel Comics’ definitive Black Panther. Due to being the longest-running Black Panther, there are tons of examples of T’Challa’s strength, making him hard to beat for the top spot. Even in his first appearance, T’Challa defeated the entire Fantastic Four single-handedly. He would go on to fight and defeat many big names in Marvel Comics.
T’Challa has taken down invincible characters like Deadpool and Wolverine, defeated big name Avengers like Iron Man and Captain America, and even managed to take down all the New Warriors at once. T’Challa has proven himself to be the most powerful Black Panther through his many victories, and with so many years under his belt it would be difficult for any other character to dethrone him.
NEXT: 10 Best Quotes in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever